Like most half-wits, I thought jury duty was something you could politely decline. Like fruitcake.
But recently, after being summoned, I found out from county clerk Thelma Claremont that "jury service is not voluntary but a civic duty imposed upon all citizens pursuant to civil code section 204."
Desperate, I called my shrink for a note. The old fuddy-duddy wouldn't budge.
"It's jury duty, Jason. You can't plea insanity."
So it goes.
Pursuant to civil code section 204, I requested a one-time postponement, which Thelma took personally.
"You're not happy with your date, Mr. Love? Well, when would this be convenient?"
"How about never. Does never work for you?"
Day of Reckoning
I woke up to a memo from my wife:
"So you finally have to go. Ha ha ha. Take deep breaths before you speak, and try not to get arrested. Ha ha ha ha."
It's that kind of compassion that keeps a marriage going.
One of the reasons I work at home is that I'm not good at being on time. It started at an early age, when I kept my mom in labor so long that they finally came after me with tongs. Today I would have been on time -- Scout's honor -- but traffic backed up to my driveway.
At the court I checked in with Thelma Claremont, who seemed to thrive on fluorescent lighting.
"Is there a reason that you're late, Mr. Love?"
"Yes, ma'me. Overpopulation."
Thelma led me to The Assembly Room, which squirmed with other abductees. Some gossiped over coffee; others read the funnies with a sigh. I wondered why we can't hire professional juries, people who are at home watching Court TV anyway.
After our indoctrination -- a speech that made you vomit red, white, and blue -- we were free to graze on grass in the courtyard. I explored my navel with tiny instruments while lawyers passed by in Armani and Hugo Boss. I once owned a tie, but I used it to hang Big Bird on Halloween.
Just as I nodded off, Thelma Claremont's voice cackled over the intercom: "All jurors report to The Assembly Room. All jurors..."
We filed in slowly the way you do when you're about to be probed by attorneys.
I chuckled and looked at my neighbor. Come on, man -- Jim's Weenie!
"May I remind everyone that if you leave the grounds, you will be re-summoned for a full day of service."
We the Chosen sat in Courtroom 21 staring at the defendant, who tried to look like a puppy. A Chihuahua perhaps. The trumpets sounded and in walked -- on my oath -- Judge Smiley. He may or may not have had teeth.
Smiley explained that jury service is not voluntary but a civic duty imposed upon all citizens pursuant to civil code section 204. He said the trial would take one week despite the fact that the defendant was obviously guilty.
Then he got to the part that everyone was waiting for: "Is there any reason why you, the juror, cannot sit on this trial?"
I wanted to go with my first reaction -- "I write fart jokes for a living" -- but decided to follow the book, How to Get Out of Jury Service.
"Your honor, serving on this jury would make it impossible for me to pay my bills."
The judge squinted as if he had heard that one -- verbatim -- but made a note and moved on. The others pleaded their cases in turn. One woman, Angela, sobbed that her husband was sick in the hospital. I knew I should have cried.
The judge huddled with Armani and Hugo Boss while I fiddled with my pen cap. Snap on, snap off, snap on, snap off. Finally, the judge read his verdicts.
"Jason Love ... excused for hardship."
I exhaled like O.J. and went to hug my neighbor. Come on, man -- I've been acquitted!
Stay tuned next year when we discover "What Happens When You Skip Jury Duty." Dodging service may not look good on my political record, but I'm willing to take that risk.
Or maybe I will serve under one condition -- that Thelma Claremont eat my fruitcake.